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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating and life changing, mental wound commonly associated with veterans experiencing trauma during war-time. Studies by the government have revealed PTSD isn’t limited to combat, it also includes childhood abuse, military rape, and reckless behaviour. PTSD is considered a disorder to most professionals as well as the government. PTSD is a natural response by the human brain to inoculate against further trauma. Within this post, I’ll compare and contrast studies completed by the government on the efficacy of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and western medicine used to treat PTSD and why the “D” should be dropped.
When a soldier comes home, they’re given a mental examination. If they’re considered to be unfit for duty, the military will tag them with a PTSD label — a polite way of saying that they’re no longer mission-capable. If the soldier’s been in a firefight, the examination may happen in-country. If a soldier admits that they’re experiencing trauma, from witnessing a friend step on a landmine, the examiner may consider the soldier as unfit for duty — discharging them. Most soldiers won’t admit it, and with the possibility of losing careers plus its stigma, soldiers will alienate from most brothers-in-arms. To be deemed no longer mission-capable creates animosity, hatred, and mistrust. Ridiculed and removed from the brotherhood, the soldier almost always slips into depression, and can eventually lead to suicide. A shocking 22 veterans commit suicide every day. It sickens me, to think that a soldier doing their job will feel the need to commit suicide, due to hazing from an egotistical and testosterone-driven system.
The government uses Sertraline — namely, Zoloft — to treat PTS, commonly. However, a double-blind study done on wounded veterans showed that only 41% of veterans displayed reduced symptoms and that 33% had reduced symptoms using the placebo. It can help by repressing the emotions, aiding the mind’s ability to process trauma, and enable the confidence that it can be healed. Government reports on the efficacy of CAM can be life-changing. However, after 6 weeks of mantra repetition during 90-minute sessions, can send PTS into a full remission. Acupuncture, progressive muscle relaxation, and transcendental meditation also help veterans according to the government. The stigma placed on PTS makes our soldiers and veterans feel weak — experiencing this, impedes daily life activities, further deepening depression and increasing the risk of suicide. If we teach that PTS is a mental wound and just as much a part of life, as common as a fractured arm, or a deep cut… If we revise the standards by dropping the “D” and call it PTS and not PTSD… Those recovering from trauma, could have a more acceptable identity, and be more open to getting the proper care that they so desperately need.
By renaming the mental wound to PTS, it would cut the impacts on soldiers lives who’ve received a mental injury due to trauma. The risks of losing your career could be reduced much, as fewer soldiers would be identified as insane, drastically reducing the personality changes and inner suffering. If we reframe trauma as a natural process — a common reaction to traumatization — it could change many lives, of our friends and families, that might otherwise commit suicide.
To bring down the suicide rates in returning veterans, and the internal suffering, we need to look at trauma differently. The stigma attached that “you’re no longer good enough” is archaic — the Spartans would exile those deemed to be unworthy. Soldiers are taught that PTS is a wound caused by not being strong enough to deal with the traumas of combat. They’re taught that the condition is life-threatening and that PTS will cause them to appear weaker than their peers. However, the fact that they’re standing after combat’s a testament to their true inner-strength. The “warriors only” mentality is harmful, and out-of-place, with the advances of today. We, as a society, are evolving towards CAM and more worldly types of treatments. In one study, elder veterans from the Vietnam-era accepted and agreed that mindfulness and meditation techniques used for centuries in eastern medicine and in CAM are beneficial to recovery from PTS.
PTS is a common part of life — recovery is possible. When we correctly frame in the name and the way we perceive trauma — a direct challenge to Western medicine’s assumption that PTSD is a life-debilitating disorder… It’s a natural response within the brain to prevent further damage, and when injured, the individual’s in need of treatment. A more useful way to prevent suicide, and inner suffering, is teaching that PTS is a natural reaction to overwhelming events. Then, set an action plan, rather than casting them aside… We need to understand that the veteran’s trained that they’re no longer “good enough”. That way, we can regulate with verbiage, some of the inner issues which they’re having as well as our common treatment etiquette. The way in which we talk to a veteran with PTS should be in a way that doesn’t offend them — never, ask a veteran if they’ve killed someone. Approach them, with the same regard in any sensitive topic, with respect to their circumstances and cultural sensitivities. Dropping the “D” would foster a new mission of unifying the mind, by imparting empathy in the naming of our condition for those who’ve lived through extraordinary situations affecting our communities. The next time that you see a PTSD victim, treat them normally — with acceptance and respect — dropping the “D”.
Christopher Bergland. “The Neuroscience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Psychology Today. . (2013): . Web. Neuroscientists have discovered specific brain areas linked to PTSD.